Red Elderberry Juice

I discovered several big red elderberry plants on my bike ride the other day. After a fair amount of reading, there is a lot of information out there about how it has some toxicity in the stems, seeds and unripe or uncooked berries, so it seems a little sketchy.

I gathered a sack of berries and when I got them home, worked hard to pull the berries from the stems. I put it in a slow cooker for a few hours while I slept. I woke up in the night to a strange and powerful smell and panicked a little after reading one bogus-sounding comment about how the fumes from cooking the berries could be toxic. I went downstairs and removed the berries from the heat and went back to bed.

The next morning I processed the berries with a food mill, which left a few seeds in the juice, so I strained the juice again using a nut filter bag. This left me with a nice bottle of red elderberry juice. I tried a small glass of it. It is a bit thicker than a typical juice, and tastes almost exactly like orange juice that comes in a small tin can, something I haven't seen since I was a kid. So far it seems like decent stuff, except for the fact that it neither smells, tastes, or looks particularly pleasant.

Update from a few days later:

After drinking a small glass of the red elderberry juice that day, I found the memories of the taste to be increasingly unpleasant. Today I got in my car and could smell reminders of the flavor and it's a real turn-off. I think I may dump the remaining juice and try to forget this experiment ever happened, and from now on, leave those red berries on the bush.

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It helped me decide on not buy the seeds in order to grow red elderberry bushes. I thought they would produce a nice fluid bright red juice, like the berries themselves, but that's clearly not the case. Thanks for trying to forage. The next adventure might be better!

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